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Truth & Salvage Co. sift through 50 songs to make the perfect record

Refusing to settle

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It's been exactly two years since their eponymous debut, and the Nashville-based sextet Truth & Salvage Co. are inching ever closer to finalizing a follow-up album. Well, sort of.

The band has an excess of 50 songs to choose from. They're also living amidst a pile of unpacked boxes, having relocated from L.A. to Nashville just three weeks ago. And they keep coming up with new ways to record their new album. In fact, when guitarist and co-singer/songwriter Tim Jones answers his mobile, T&S are en route to a friend's studio which is virtually unchanged since 1974. The session will be decidedly old-school, and Jones wouldn't have it any other way.

"We've recorded a lot and really love what we did, but we're still lacking some more excitement," Jones explains. "In the studio, they've never changed anything, and we're just going to cut all the songs live to two-inch tape and see if that works. We're just trying to create the best possible record that we can. It's hard to say, 'We're gonna settle for this.'"

Settling isn't really in the band's vocabulary. Jones was a musician living in L.A. when he joined forces with the members of Scrappy Hamilton — Scott Kinnebrew (guitar), Bill "Smitty" Smith (drums), Joe Edal (bass), and Walker Young (keys) — as well as Adam Grace (keys). They eventually adopted the T&S moniker in 2005.

Despite building a loyal following in their hometown, the band didn't catch its big break until 2009 when the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson signed them to his Silver Arrow label. Opening slots for big acts like the Crowes and the Avett Brothers allowed the band members to hone their skills and prepare for a future of relentless touring. The downside to the road warrior lifestyle? Edal decided to leave the band at the end of 2010, and they still haven't secured a permanent replacement.

The upside has paid dividends: T&S shows are the stuff of legend, thanks to set lists that shuffle nightly and audiences that still marvel at the band's incredible four-part harmonies. But all that time on the road forced the band to eventually re-evaluate its home base — which is why they're still living amidst the wreckage of a cross-country move.

"It's always an upheaval when you leave from one place to another," he says. "There was definitely nothing like, 'I gotta get outta Los Angeles.'" It was just all very practical and efficient. I think L.A. will always be a little bit of home for us."

Home or not, Jones still has Hollywood-esque dreams of fame and fortune for his band. "We built as much success as we could off of the first record, but we're definitely not household names and we don't have the ear of everyone," he says. "We did a lot for a band on an indie label, and that is pretty much self sufficient, but there are still a lot bigger things we can do. We're really hoping this next record will launch us to that category."

It remains to be seen what Truth & Salvage Co. will do for its encore once they scale back from 50 songs to 13. Maybe they'll sell 100,000 copies of the new album like Jones hopes.

"Next summer we'd like to play all the big festivals and make some appearances on some late night talk shows," he says. "Get a four-star review in Rolling Stone. Those are all kind of realistic yet lofty goals. Making the cover of Time magazine. That'd be pretty cool."

Jones laughs loudly before admitting that while it's nice to dream big, mostly the band has much simpler aspirations. "Right now we really just want to make the best record that we possibly can, and we're not satisfied with anything less than what we all are hearing in our heads."

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